If your business operates in two or more taxing jurisdictions, the Supreme Court’s decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair applies to you.
In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court decided South Dakota v. Wayfair. Since then, businesses that operate in two or more of the nation’s 10,000-plus tax jurisdictions have been struggling to understand what they need to do to comply with the new definition of economic nexus. Wayfair affects all businesses, from strictly online sellers to manufacturers and wholesalers to brick-and-mortar retailers.
The Court’s ruling was vastly different from its 1992 ruling in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, which found that sales tax did not have to be collected unless the company had a physical presence in the state. Then again, Quill was decided when the Internet was in its infancy.
Wayfair did not expressly state a threshold for collecting sales tax, but the South Dakota statute in the case stipulates that any out-of-state business that makes $100,000 in sales or that has 200 or more sales in South Dakota must collect sales tax. Although that is a good guideline, businesses need to remember that not all jurisdictions follow it: some are higher and others are lower.
This creates problems for businesses for a number of reasons, including the following:
- Business registration. Every state has different rules about how businesses must register as taxing entities. In some states, it is enough to register at the state level, whereas in others, the business needs to register at the county and municipality level as well. Some jurisdictions may ask businesses to prove they do or do not meet its thresholds. Noncompliance with these requests can lead to steep penalties. Other jurisdictions have voluntary disclosure programs that can help limit exposure.
- Goods and service exemptions. There is no one standard for taxing goods and services. For example, clothing is not taxed in New Jersey, but in New York, a neighboring state, the only clothing that costs more than $110 is taxed. There is a never-ending list of discrepancies between jurisdictions, and this list can change quickly.
- Other factors. Your business may need to rethink its operations. For example, is your inventory stored in another jurisdiction?
- Effective dates. Just as there is no universal list of which goods and services are taxed, there is no one list of effective dates. A new effective date takes effect every time a jurisdiction decides to tax a good or service, exempt one from taxation or impose a new dollar limit.
The Wayfair ruling is not going away, so businesses need to take several steps to analyze their exposure. Businesses need to:
- perform a detailed analysis of the business’s annual sales and number of transactions in every jurisdiction in which it operates;
- determine which goods and services are taxable in each of those jurisdictions;
- figure out when and where to register, what penalties it may incur and whether registering will make it subject to other taxes, such as franchise taxes; and
- determine how it will manage sales tax compliance going forward.
Businesses don’t need to do this on their own. Contact us today for professional help in figuring out your business’s sales tax responsibilities.
You don’t have to wear a while lab coat to claim the federal research and development tax credit if you meet the four criteria outlined in Internal Revenue Code Section 41 and its regulations. Learn why failing to explore this credit may be leaving money on the table.
Many manufacturing companies fail to take advantage of the generous research and development (R&D) tax credit simply because they don’t have staff working in a lab. The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) definition of R&D is codified at Internal Revenue Code Section 41 and its related regulations — and it may not be exactly what you think it is.
From 2018 to 2027, the estimated value of R&D tax credits to be claimed by U.S. companies is estimated at $163 billion, with $148 billion of that going to corporations.
You can take advantage of this tax credit as long as your company performs activities such as the following:
- Redesigns its production process to be more efficient.
- Introduces artificial intelligence or robotics into your manufacturing process.
- Develops software that enhances your company’s processes or procedures.
- Designs, constructs or tests product prototypes.
- Develops second-generation or improved products.
This list is not all-inclusive. According to the IRS, many activities may qualify if they are performed in the United States and meet the following four-part test.
Part 1. Permitted purpose
The IRS test is to create a new or improved product, business component or process that increases performance, function, reliability, composition or quality or that reduces costs for your company. It does not have to be new to your industry.
Development of internal use software may meet the permitted purpose test if it:
- is an innovation that provides economically significant results;
- requires a certain amount of economic risk and use of resources to develop when recovery of the cost is uncertain over a reasonable time; and
- is not commercially available for the intended purpose, although commercially available software may be eligible if it is significantly modified.
Part 2. Technological in nature
The research must fundamentally rely on the hard or physical sciences, such as engineering, physics, chemistry, biology or computer science.
Part 3. Uncertainty eliminated
You must be able to demonstrate that you’ve attempted to eliminate any uncertainty about the usefulness of the development, improvement or design.
Part 4. Process of experimentation
You must be able to demonstrate during the research process that you’ve experimented and evaluated alternatives. This may have been done through research techniques like modeling, simulation, trial and error or some other method.
Documenting R&D Activities
Claiming the credit requires a lot of supporting documentation, however. It is worth taking the time to assess whether the amount of tax relief you’ll get is worth the effort. For example, you’ll need to determine how much of a credit your company is eligible for, how difficult it will be to document your company’s R&D activities, whether the credit can be used to offset alternative minimum tax liability and whether you can claim previously unused credits.
Many, if not all, manufacturers may find they can reduce their taxes by taking advantage of the federal R&D tax credit. In addition, many states have an R&D credit that is available to manufacturers. It’s worth investigating and we can help. Contact us today to determine whether you should be claiming this credit.
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It isn’t easy deciding whether a worker should be treated as an employee or an independent contractor. But the IRS looks at the distinction closely.
For an employee, a business generally must withhold income and FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes from the employee’s pay and remit those taxes to the government. Additionally, the employer must pay FICA taxes for the employee (currently 7.65% of earnings up to $137,700).*
The business must also pay unemployment taxes for the worker. In contrast, for an independent contractor, a business is not required to withhold income or FICA taxes. The contractor is fully liable for his or her own self-employment taxes, and FICA and federal unemployment taxes do not apply.
Employees Versus Independent Contractors
To determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee, the IRS examines factors in three categories:
- Behavioral control — the extent to which the business controls how the work is done, whether through instructions, training, or otherwise.
- Financial control — the extent to which the worker has the ability to control the economic aspects of the job. Factors considered include the worker’s investment and whether he or she may realize a profit or loss.
- Type of relationship — whether the worker’s services are essential to the business, the expected length of the relationship, and whether the business provides the worker with employee-type benefits, such as insurance, vacation pay, or sick pay, etc.
In certain cases where a taxpayer has a reasonable basis for treating an individual as a non-employee (such as a prior IRS ruling), non-employee treatment may be allowed regardless of the three-prong test.
If the proper classification is unclear, the business or the worker may obtain an official IRS determination by filing Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding.
Generally, if a business has made payments of $600 or more to an independent contractor, it must file an information return (Form 1099-MISC) with the IRS and send a corresponding statement to the independent contractor.
Consequences of Misclassification
Where the employer misclassifies the employee as an independent contractor, the IRS may impose penalties for failure to deduct and withhold the employee’s income and/or FICA taxes. Penalties may be doubled if the employer also failed to file a Form 1099-MISC, though the lower penalty will apply if the failure was due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect.
Employers with misclassified workers may be able to correct their mistakes through the IRS’s Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP). For employers that meet the program’s eligibility requirements, the VCSP provides the following benefits:
- Workers improperly classified as independent contractors are treated as employees going forward.
- The employer pays 10% of the most recent tax year’s employment tax liability for the identified workers, determined under reduced rates (but no interest or penalties).
- The government agrees not to raise the issue of the workers’ classification for prior years in an employment-tax audit.
Your tax advisor can help you sort through the IRS rules and fulfill your tax reporting obligations. *Internal Revenue Service. For 2020, the Social Security tax rate is 6.2% and is applied to earnings up to $137,700. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45% on the first $200,000 and 2.35% above $200,000.
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S corporation shareholders have an added reason to worry about their company’s annual performance: It has a direct impact on their own income taxes.
How It Works
Unlike a regular C corporation, an S corporation usually doesn’t pay federal income taxes itself. Instead, each shareholder is allocated a portion of the corporate income, loss, deductions, and credits on a special “K-1” tax form. The shareholder then must report the items listed on the K-1 on his or her personal tax return.
The K-1 allocations are based on stock ownership percentages. So, for example, if an S corporation has $100,000 of taxable business income for the year, a person who owns 75% of the stock in the corporation would be allocated 75% of that income, or $75,000.
This scheme can get complicated thats why we recommend the accountant Sydney services to help you in the process. Case in point: The K-1 may show more income than the shareholder actually received from the company during the year. That’s because the K-1 figure is based on the corporation’s actual taxable income — not on the distributions made to the shareholder.
Here’s an example: Tom starts a new corporation, electing S status. In the first year, Tom draws a $30,000 salary and receives no other distributions from the company. The company’s ordinary business income (after deducting his salary) is $10,000. Since Tom is the only shareholder, all the company’s $10,000 of income is allocated to him on his K-1. Tom must include both the $30,000 of salary and the $10,000 on his personal income tax return, even though all he actually received from the corporation was his salary.
This result seems harsh, but it’s not the end of the story. Special rules in the tax law prevent the same income from being taxed again. Essentially, Tom will be credited with already having paid taxes on the $10,000 so that any future distribution of the funds will not be taxable.
To determine whether non-dividend distributions are tax free, S corporation shareholders must keep track of their stock basis.* The computation generally starts with a shareholder’s initial capital contribution (or the stock’s cost if it was purchased) and changes from year to year as the shareholder is allocated corporate income, loss, etc. Non-dividend distributions that don’t exceed a shareholder’s stock basis are tax free.
Note that S corporation shareholders may be eligible to deduct up to 20% of their S corporation pass-through income. Eligibility depends on taxable income and other factors. S shareholders will want to consult their tax advisor to see if they can take advantage of the deduction to lower the taxes on their business income.
*Most distributions made from an S corporation are non-dividend distributions. Dividend distributions can occur if the company was previously a regular C corporation (or in other limited situations).
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The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the SECURE Act) was signed into law on December 20, 2019. The Act will likely impact large numbers of working Americans as well as those already retired. In general, the Act is intended to increase access to tax-advantaged retirement plans and to help prevent older Americans from outliving their assets.
Here are some of the changes that could affect your planning.
Delayed Deadline for Taking Required Minimum Distributions
Tax law has generally required individual retirement account (IRA) owners and retirement plan participants to begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from their accounts once they reach age 70½. The new law pushes back the age at which these distributions must begin to age 72 for IRA owners and plan participants born on or after July 1, 1949. This change allows individuals to take advantage of their retirement account’s tax-deferred nature for a longer period.
No Age Limit for Making Traditional IRA Contributions
Beginning with the 2020 tax year, the new law eliminates the 70½ age limit for making annual contributions to traditional IRAs. This is a plus for those people who continue to work past age 70½ and want to keep saving for retirement on a tax-deferred basis.
Penalty-Free Birth and Adoption Distributions
The new law also expands the exceptions to the 10% penalty for early withdrawals from IRAs and other tax-deferred retirement plans by adding an exception for “qualified birth or adoption distributions” up to $5,000. The new law defines a “qualified” birth or adoption distribution as a withdrawal from an IRA or other eligible retirement plan made during the one-year period beginning on the date the IRA owner’s or the plan participant’s child is born or the adoptee’s adoption is finalized. If desired, parents may replenish their retirement savings by repaying the amount distributed.
Restrictions on Stretch IRAs
The new law places severe restrictions on the use of “stretch” IRAs. A stretch IRA generally permitted beneficiaries to take their RMDs from an inherited IRA over their life expectancy. Thus, beneficiaries were able to stretch payments from the inherited IRA over many years and potentially pass on the inherited IRA to their own beneficiaries. The SECURE Act changes the RMD rules for beneficiaries of IRA owners (and plan participants) who passed away in 2020 or later. Under the SECURE Act, the use of stretch IRAs is restricted to a limited group of IRA beneficiaries. The specific details on who is eligible to use stretch IRAs is complex, and IRA owners who base their estate plans on the use of a stretch IRA should consult with a financial professional to see how they might be impacted.
Small Business Retirement Plans
Good news if you own a small business — the SECURE Act provides incentives to make it easier for you to establish a retirement plan. Starting in 2020, eligible employers that establish a 401(k) or SIMPLE IRA plan with automatic enrollment may qualify for a new tax credit of $500 per year for up to three years. In addition, the existing credit for small employer plan startup costs has increased to as much as $5,000 per year for three years. Previously, the annual credit maximum was $500. Employers also have more time to establish a qualified retirement plan. Previously, a qualified plan, such as a profit-sharing plan, had to be adopted by the last day of the employer’s tax year to be effective for that year. The SECURE Act allows a qualified plan to be adopted as late as the employer’s tax filing deadline (plus extensions).
Your financial and tax professionals can provide more details about these and other important SECURE Act changes and how they may affect your retirement planning.
The federal spending package that was enacted in the waning days of 2019 contains numerous provisions that will impact both businesses and individuals. In addition to repealing three health care taxes and making changes to retirement plan rules, the legislation extends several expired tax provisions. Here is an overview of several of the more important provisions in the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act of 2019.
Deduction for Mortgage Insurance Premiums
Before the Act, mortgage insurance premiums paid or accrued before January 1, 2018, were potentially deductible as qualified residence interest, subject to a phase-out based on the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI). The Act retroactively extends this treatment through 2020.
Reduction in Medical Expense Deduction Floor
For 2017 and 2018, taxpayers were able to claim an itemized deduction for unreimbursed medical expenses to the extent that such expenses were greater than 7.5% of AGI. The AGI threshold was scheduled to increase to 10% of AGI for 2019 and later tax years. Under the Act, the 7.5% of AGI threshold is extended through 2020.
Qualified Tuition and Related Expenses Deduction
The above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses for higher education, which expired at the end of 2017, has been extended through 2020. The deduction is capped at $4,000 for a taxpayer whose modified AGI does not exceed $65,000 ($130,000 for those filing jointly) or $2,000 for a taxpayer whose modified AGI is not greater than $80,000 ($160,000 for joint filers). The deduction is not allowed with a modified AGI of more than $80,000 ($160,000 if you are a joint filer).
Credit for Energy-Efficient Home Improvements
The 10% credit for certain qualified energy improvements (windows, doors, roofs, skylights) to a principal residence has been extended through 2020, as have the credits for purchases of energy-efficient property (furnaces, boilers, biomass stoves, heat pumps, water heaters, central air conditions, and circulating fans), subject to a lifetime cap of $500.
Empowerment Zone Tax Incentives
Businesses and individual residents within economically depressed areas that are designated as “Empowerment Zones” are eligible for special tax incentives. Empowerment Zone designations, which expired on December 31, 2017, have been extended through December 31, 2020, under the new tax law.
Employer Tax Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave
A provision in the tax code permits eligible employers to claim an elective general business credit based on eligible wages paid to qualified employees with respect to the family and medical leave. This credit has been extended through 2020.
Work Opportunity Tax Credit
Employers who hire individuals who belong to one or more of 10 targeted groups can receive an elective general business credit under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program. The recent tax law extends this credit through 2020.
For details about these and other tax breaks included in the recent law, please consult your tax advisor.
The SBA recently released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application along with some key clarifications in completing the application process. The Forgiveness application is intended for small business owners who received a PPP loan as part of the CARES Act.
The PPP Forgiveness application is comprised of 11 lines used to calculate the amount of forgiveness a small business owner is eligible for. You can confirm from the Minlaw’s list of licensed money lender Singapore all or part of the PPP loan may be forgiven as long as the small business used the funds for payroll, business mortgage interest, rent, or utilities.
The newly-released application essentially asks for the payroll and qualifying non-payroll costs that the business spent over the eight-week period since receiving PPP funds. The amount of forgiveness may be reduced depending on whether a business reduced pay for their employees greater than 25 percent, or if the business owner failed to bring back the same number of full-time employees.
The final step in the application process is verification that the business owner allocated at least 75 percent of the PPP funds for payroll costs, and the remaining 25 percent for mortgage interest, rent, or utilities, if you want the find more articles like this one we recommend the Money Talks News website.
To learn more about completing the Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness application, please contact us.
Keep a constant watch on your accounts receivable to improve cash flow.
Quick: How many of your invoices are unpaid? Have any of your customers gone over 30 days past due? Did you bill all of the time and expenses for that project you just completed for a customer?
If you’re doing your accounting manually, there’s simply no way to get that information quickly. Depending on your bookkeeping system, you may not be able to get it at all.
QuickBooks Online has more than one solution to this problem. You see the first one every time you log in. The Dashboard contains a graphic in the upper left corner that tells you how many invoices are overdue and unpaid. Click on the colored bar labeled OVERDUE, and you’ll see a list of invoices with the unpaid ones right at the top.
You can tell at a glance how much of your money is tied up in unpaid invoices.
While this is important information for you to have as you start your workday, it doesn’t tell the whole story. To get that, you’ll need to access some of QuickBooks Online’s reports – five of them in particular. Click Reports in the left vertical pane, and then scroll down to the heading labeled Who owes you.
These reports are listed in two columns. Each has the outline of a star next to it. Click on the star, and the report will be added to the Favorites list at the top of the page. Click on the three vertical dots next to it, and you’ll be able to Customize the report. And as you hover over the title, you’ll see a small, circled question mark. Click on this to get a brief description of the report.
There are several reports on this list that can provide insight into where your outstanding revenue is. We recommend you run five of them at least once a week – more frequently if your business sells large quantities of products and/or services. The suggested are:
Accounts receivable aging detail
This report provides a list of invoices that are overdue, along with aging information. There are several columns in the report, but you’ll want to pay special attention to the last one: OPEN BALANCE.
Tip: If you have many customers or simply a high volume of unpaid invoices, you might consider running the Accounts receivable aging summary instead.
Changing the Content
Before you run the report, you should explore the customization tools provided for it. They won’t be the same for every report, but you can start to get an idea of what can be done. Hover over the report title and click Customize. A panel like the one pictured below will slide out of the right side of the screen.
QuickBooks Online provides deep customization tools for reports.
You can see some of your customization options in the image above. Beyond these, you can also work with filters and headers/footers. When you’re satisfied with your changes, click Run report.
If you want to run a report with its default settings, just click on the report title in the list to display it. You’ll have access to limited customization from there.
Four other reports you should be generating regularly are:
- Customer Balance Summary: Shows you how much each customer owes your business
- Open Invoices: Lists invoices for which there has been no payment
- Unbilled Charges: Just what it sounds like: tells you who hasn’t been invoiced yet for billable charges
- Unbilled Time: Lists all billable time not yet invoiced
We don’t expect you’ll have any trouble understanding reports like these; they’re fairly self-explanatory. QuickBooks Online offers many other reports, the standard financial reports that need to be generated monthly or quarterly, like Balance Sheet, Profit and Loss, and Statement of Cash Flows. You’ll absolutely need these should you apply for a loan or need to supply in-depth financials for any other reason. We can help you analyze them to get a comprehensive, detailed picture of your company’s fiscal health.
Like many business owners, you may have structured your business as an S corporation because of the tax benefits it offers. An S corporation provides the same limited liability as a traditional C corporation, but it generally avoids the double taxation associated with a C corporation. You and the other shareholders (if any) pay income taxes on corporate income directly.
Once you have an S election in place, it’s important to make sure you avoid taking any action that would put the election in jeopardy. Your corporation’s failure to meet certain tax law requirements on an ongoing basis could result in the IRS’s termination of its S corporation status.
- Ownership. An S corporation generally may not have a corporate shareholder. (Exception: An S corporation may be wholly owned by another S corporation.) All shareholders generally must be individuals, estates, certain trusts, or tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. However, a partnership may hold S corporation stock as a nominee for an eligible shareholder. Nonresident aliens may not be shareholders.
- Number of shareholders. An S corporation may not have more than 100 shareholders. For purposes of this limit, a husband and wife are treated as one shareholder, as are certain other related individuals.
- Stock. An S corporation may have only one class of stock. Generally, a corporation is treated as having only one class of stock if all outstanding shares of the corporation’s stock confer identical rights to distribution and liquidation proceeds.
Our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by the virus. To those who are sick, we send our thoughts and best wishes for a speedy recovery. For those businesses and employees who have been negatively impacted, we are sorry. We hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe.
Given the current environment and need to operate with best practices, we have elected to take action to protect your physical health as well starting with avoiding the use of cash and credit cards, you can easily Buy Digital Currency Coins online to use from your cell phone or any smartphone.
In-person meetings with clients – While our firm is still working during tax season, our physical office is closed. We must limit in-person interaction for your benefit and ours. In lieu of in-person meetings, contact us and we can talk on the phone or schedule a video meeting.
Remote staffing – To practice safely, some of our team is working from home and using technology to work securely and online.
Secure electronic document exchange – We are using Protected Xchange to securely and safely exchange electronic documents without physically touching paper. Protected Xchange provides encryption and is safer than email. The COVID-19 virus can live on paper documents and checks so we prefer to work electronically. If you have work papers, please scan and send electronically using Protected Xchange. If you mail or drop off documents, please understand that we will need to quarantine paper documents and this will slow things up.
Payments – To operate safely, we are using BizPayO to accept electronic payments. BizPayO accepts electronic checks, credit card, and debit card payments. We want to avoid physical checks and cash.
Legislation Changes – There will be a series of legislation changes and clarifications coming for 2020 (federal and state). At the moment, we are focused on completing tax filings for 2019 so please provide your information promptly.
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